Updated: Aug 24
By: Archiebald Faller Capila
History is abundant with narratives that involve great stories of women who eventually reached the mountain top and became the icons that they are today. Time has been a witness as to how women have dominated certain areas of different professions—and we are all a part of the history that connects their vision and brilliance in their respective careers.
The legal profession is not spared from the same. Our country, since time immemorial, has bannered and boasted numerous women who have become catalysts of change in our legal landscape. They have been important figures in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government. They have raised the bar so many times that excellence has been the standard for so many fields of law today.
However, behind such a narrative, there are some unwritten stories and unheard voices. While we all see the glitz and glamour of the profession through the success of these people, seldom do we see and hear the experiences which build up the same.
The arc to the narrative we adore often has its moments. Sometimes, we need to pay more attention to the details these stories present. It is never just about the end. It’s about how it all began—how a law student tried to study for the Bar while being a mother. It’s about a Bar candidate who needed more than two tries in order to finally become a lawyer. It’s about a lawyer who is, above all else, a single parent and a wonderful mother to her children.
There is a cliché that says that there is something different with a mother’s touch. Whether it be applied in practical life or in the legal profession, it says a lot about a mother’s nature. True enough, there is a need to look in detail the stories behind it all. Within the circle of mother-lawyers in the profession is Atty. Kaiser Kate C. Narciso.
In an exclusive interview with Barrista Solutions, Atty. Narciso shares her thoughts on the status of the legal profession in general today. More importantly, she shares her experience as a mother while studying law, how she dealt with the struggles that came along the way, and a message to all aspiring lawyers who think of giving up because they feel like they failed in this legal journey.
Barrista Solutions: The current structure of the legal profession, as well as our legal education, has changed because of the current pandemic. How do you manage to adapt to the law practice in the new normal?
Atty. Narciso: I think the keyword here is “acceptance”. It is the first step to adaptability. If we accept the fact that the world will never be the same, it will eventually pave way for a prepared mindset. This is in order to come up with plans and innovations that will fit into the demands of the new normal. Also, a little play with imagination helps us a lot. I think lawyers are made for that.
Barrista Solutions: If any, what are your suggestions in order to improve the response of the legal profession in today’s time of crisis?
Atty. Narciso: Well, now that I am working in the judiciary, I am a witness to how the legal profession (whether in private practice or in government service) has put so much effort in adapting to the needs of the time. However, specifically in the judiciary, the creation of more courts would be a breakthrough to the speedy and efficient administration of justice.
Barrista Solutions: Because of the current pandemic, more practitioners and law professors are now using various virtual and online platforms in order to teach their respective classes. For you, is this more of an advantage or a disadvantage? Why?
Atty. Narciso: I would say that online learning has both an advantage and a disadvantage. When I took the Bar, there was a time that I opt to enroll at ChanRobles Online Bar Review because it is cost-saving, convenient, and does not take too much of my time. However, I have also observed that I had more retention during my face-to-face UP Diliman Bar Review. So long as a student has a passion for learning, either or a combination of both will definitely work for him/her.
Barrista Solutions: What do you expect to change in the near future when it comes to the legal profession if and when the pandemic is over? What are you hoping for with respect to your practice as well?
Atty. Narciso: Hopefully after this pandemic, the legal profession will be back to its normal grind. Law offices and courts will be fully operational to cover the delays brought about by this pandemic. I am also looking forward to that moment when lawyers alike will be able to spend time together like conventions, MCLEs, free legal aids, and Christmas parties.
Barrista Solutions: When you were still a law student, what do you think was your greatest challenge? How did you overcome the same?
Atty. Narciso: Being a law student in itself is a big challenge. However, being a single parent of a two-year-old daughter took my law school years to the next level. The everyday struggle with fatigue in attending to my daughter’s needs, the limited time to catch up with my readings for the daily recitation, the endless race in my daily commute from my hometown (Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur) to Ateneo de Davao City, the financial distress from being torn into providing my tuition fee while maintaining the household expense, and the social isolation for being forced to do everything on my own are some of the things that I have mastered while surviving law school. As I put it, it’s like breathing one day at a time.
Barrista Solutions: Apart from being a lawyer, you are also a mother. How do you manage your time both on a professional and a personal level?
Atty. Narciso: I always have this motto that “I am a full-time mother and a part-time lawyer”. Looking back, I cannot figure out how I was able to manage my time both professionally and personally. The everyday hustle is almost the same when I was in law school, except that I have four (4) daughters and now I am getting paid for my stress, hehe! Kidding aside, at this point in my life, I am just thankful that I am gainfully employed to be able to provide for my family. In other words, I just take my “challenging” work as an opportunity for self-improvement and my “challenging” parenting as a blessing. There is no specific life-plan or timetable.
Barrista Solutions: For you, what are the similarities between practicing law and being a mother to your children? How do you see yourself as a lawyer-parent in the future?
Atty. Narciso: As a Clerk of Court (Court Attorney), I am the immediate supervisor of all the personnel of the branch and I also oversee the daily court operation. I do the budgeting for procurement of office supplies, I trouble-shoot day-to-day concerns in preparation for court hearings, receive an ex-parte presentation of evidence in the performance of quasi-judicial functions, and even pacify issues between personnel as may be necessary for the performance of administrative functions. Indeed, these are basically the things I do as a mother. I think God has prepared me all along for this job.
Barrista Solutions: What is the greatest lesson you have learned both in the field of legal practice and being a mother to your children?
Atty. Narciso: Rest if you must, but never quit.
Barrista Solutions: If you could give a piece of advice or any form of a message to your younger self, what would it be and why?
Atty. Narciso: I will tell my younger self that “It is okay not to be productive at all times. Having some me-time is itself productivity”. I realized that because I was pushing myself too much to become a responsible adult, I spent less time working on myself and was deprived into experiencing the adventures that would gracefully transition the younger me into adulthood.
Barrista Solutions: What are your tips and message to all law students out there dreaming of finishing law school and eventually passing the Bar exams any time soon?
Atty. Narciso: Pray for miracles. You know I am not really ashamed to tell the others that I took the bar thrice before passing it. Instead of indulging into deep frustration, the challenge prepared me to become tough to withstand adverse situations in life. Every time I took the exam, I gained new friends, made some connections, enrich my bar experience ( i.e., I was pregnant in between, I was heartbroken and devastated, I was broke, took the bar in full essay type in De La Salle University, took the bar in multiple-choice type in Sto. Tomas University was there during the La Salle bombing and so on.) In other words, the downfall was times three but made my heart full. At that time, I did not mind taking the bar so many times because I know in myself that I was waiting for a miracle. It was failing and making it which strengthens my faith in God.
* Atty. Kaiser Kate C. Narciso is a Court Attorney based in Davao City. She is a graduate of Ateneo de Davao College of Law.